Terrell Co. has high colon cancer mortality rate - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Terrell Co. has high colon cancer mortality rate

November 2, 2007

Albany -- As the Medical Director of Phoebe Putney Hospital's Cancer Center, Dr. Phillip Roberts knows cancer kills many South Georgians.  

Dr. Phillip Roberts said "the cancer death rate in Southwest Georgia is significantly higher than in Georgia and the rest of the country. It's about 7.5 percent higher that the rest of Georgia."

 One of the most startling facts, from 2000 to 2004 the mortality rate of colon cancer cases in Terrell County was 48.5 deaths per 100,000 people, one of the highest death rates in the country. While admitting there are tragic problems, Dr. Roberts said that figure is misleading, because of the small number of people involved.  Dr. Phillips said "that only constitutes five deaths out of ten patients. So ten patients and five deaths does not constitute an epidemic."

 Fatty food diets, with lots of fried chicken and barbeque are often cited as one reason South Georgians have high mortality rates of colon cancer. But Dr. Phillips says it's obesity and failure to get health screenings at age 50.  Dr. Phillips says "you not only screen for colon cancer, but you prevent colon cancer because you remove the pre-malignant polyps, and those will not become cancer."

Phoebe Putney is building a huge new medical tower to serve as their Cancer Center, because of the overwhelming number of cancer patients they are seeing.

Doctors say losing weight through a healthier diet and exercise, and health screenings could improve mortality rates. Dr. Phillips said smoking and obesity are now considered the two big causes of cancer in South Georgia.

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